For, literally, years I’ve been saying there needs to be an in-between for women that features the comfort and flexibility of yoga tights, but the durability of hiking pants. While a friend and I would lazily talk while we hiked about how we should develop them, a few brands actually did. I’d had my eye on the Fjallraven ones for a while, but had a hard time pulling the trigger on $238 tights that I couldn’t try on before I buy.
When I found out The North Face had come out with their rendition of hiker tights at a much more affordable price of $80, I knew I had to give them a go.
When I was at the store trying them on, I was pleasantly surprised to see I wore a size smaller than I thought I would. In most of the hiking brands, I wear a large in pants but in these tights a Medium was a perfect fit without being tight. I could still breathe and move and was that person doing low squats in the dressing room in front of the mirror.
The tights are available in two colors: black on black, and grey on black. I genuinely appreciate the fact that TNF didn’t create these in pink and purples and other bright ‘feminine’ colours. I went with the all black version because I’m vain and I thought it was more attractive on me.
These pants come equipped with FLASHDRY, a fabric technology intended to help your sweat evaporate faster and allow you to stay drier and more comfortable in a wide range of weather. I found it particularly helpful when I accidentally spilled half of my water bottle on my lap in the car and was able to just wipe it off. It was also helpful when Moose kept laying in the river and coming up beside me to shake off. I was able to just wipe the water off my tights and keep going.
The tights have reinforced knees, which is great for all squatting or if you need to crawl over things. A girl at the North Face store said that they were awesome for rock climbing, and I absolutely believe it, remembering how rough my knees could get on the rock face.
Updated 11/13/17: I took these out on a wet, cold hike on the Appalachian Trail and was really impressed with their performance. Temps were in the mid-40s*F, with misty rain. My legs stayed warm (but as I suspected, my bum was a little cold). The tell that they worked well for me was the fact that my legs weren’t wet and red when I removed the tights.
Room for Improvement:
There is one large pocket, which is great because it’s big enough to hold an iPhone 7plus but I’ve got some issues with it. I wish it were a bit more towards the outer thigh instead of towards the crotch. Whenever I was going up steep parts on the trail I would feel my phone jam into my pelvis, limiting my mobility. If you’re trying to carry your map or any printouts, it would be really distracting.
Also, the pocket is only on the right leg. As a lefty, I kept struggling with the reach-across to get stuff out of that pocket. That being said, this is a problem only for left-hand dominant people.
I wish there was more reinforcement in the butt of the tights. I’ve been on some trails where you have to sit to get down a scramble, or slide down an icy area on your bum for safety. On these tights, the fabric isn’t any thicker on the bum than the back of the calf, so I would be a little nervous about ripping them. Also, I think more reinforcement could make them a little warmer in that spot which, I don’t know about you but, my butt is always the first thing to get cold on chilly hikes.
I really like these tights. They’re an affordable option for backpacking that will be comfortable with a weighted pack on your hips, while giving you the movement and lightness of tights. Since The North Face has a lifetime warranty, I know that if I did end up ripping these, they would replace them for me.